PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Clearwater couple has been arrested and charged Thursday for aggravated manslaughter and neglect of three children.
Deputies say 33-year-old Ashley Ferguson was arrested for aggravated manslaughter of a child and two counts of neglect of a child, and 34-year-old Matthew Ferguson for three counts of neglect of a child.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said an investigation initially began on July 12, 2020, when deputies responded to a home in Clearwater for an unresponsive child.
According to detectives, the child was found unresponsive in a bedroom by Ashley Ferguson. After she found the child, she contacted emergency services and the child was pronounced dead on-scene by Largo Fire Rescue.
Detectives later learned all three of the children were malnourished, had not received adequate medical care, and were left unattended for long periods of time.
Deputies say the children had bedsores, diaper rash, severely matted hair, were unable to walk or bear any weight on their legs, and were also unable to speak. Ashley Ferguson admitted the children’s primary source of food was milk, according to PCSO.
According to the sheriff’s office, Ashley and Matthew Ferguson never sought medical treatment for the three children, specifically the child who lost his ability to walk in April 2020. Ashley Ferguson admitted to Matthew that she lied about the medical appointments.
Deputies say two of the children were placed in the care of a family member on July 16, 2020.
Due to their injuries, both surviving children received immediate medical care, which included oral surgery and feeding therapy, officials say. In addition, they will receive physical and speech therapy.
On Feb. 26, autopsy results determined the third child’s death was a homicide with the cause being chronic child neglect.
Ashley and Matthew Ferguson have been taken to the Pinellas County Jail.